Chances of Bloom title are wilting

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A LEADING member of the Hawick in Bloom group fears the Grey Auld Toon could be turning into just that.

And just under two weeks until the official judging of this year’s Scotland in Bloom competition, Andrew Farquhar believes the chances of Hawick claiming a title it has won so often in the past are wilting by the day. He told the Hawick News: “The Grey Auld Toon is all very well in song and verse but in reality a bit of colour and civic pride does no harm and indeed helps to dispel the doom and gloom that all too often prevails our community and leaves a lasting impression with visitors who may be encouraged to return.”

Mr Farquhar said a scheme to introduce hanging baskets to the High Street last year received “lukewarm support” from businesses due to the current economic climate and had to be scrapped. And he revealed further efforts to brighten up the main thoroughfare through the town are also proving problematic.

“Sadly this year the flowers planted in many of the High Street boxes are now being pulled up by vandals,” he said.

Volunteers from the Hawick in Bloom group give up time and effort to make the town look attractive by providing and maintaining floral displays and shrubs in boxes in the town centre, the Round Close and other neglected areas where weeds, litter and dog fouling is regularly cleared away.

But Mr Farquhar admitted their job isn’t made easy. He said: “In key areas there are rose beds infested with weeds, overgrown grassed areas and even blank flower beds, such as in Weensland Road waiting to be turfed over in this age of austerity.”

One particular area of neglect which left the former councillor seething is the area around Tower Mill and Heritage Hub development at the end of the High Street.

He added: “The thistles and weeds in the planters located in the civic space at our flagship £7million tourist attraction do nothing to enhance the attractiveness of this amenity or the Turnbull sculpture.

“The volunteers are small in number and cannot take on more work.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council revealed herbicide is applied to street weeds twice a year. Defending the work at the Tower Mill, they said: “The initial application in the Tower Mill area took place at the start of June and the second application is scheduled to take place in August.”

n Talking Point, page 14